Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Economics Tuesday 4: The Economics of Health Care

Dry horse-food granola posts, these are.  But worth wading through if you have stamina.

This old post talks about some of the basic reasons why market-based solutions do fairly poorly in health care, this post explains why price competition in health care is unlikely to work very well except for a few commodities (preventive care, dental care).  This post turns the idea of death panels in health care (a common conservative imaginary threat) into a boring topic about how all systems, whether government- or market-based, end up having to ration care in some ways.  Finally, this post explains the meaning of the much-hated individual mandate.*

*I just realized that I haven't done a general post on international comparisons of health care costs and health care outcomes!  An odd omission.  The gist of that post would be that the US runs the most expensive health care system in the world, that the US does not do terribly well on crude quantitative measures of health (such as increasing life expectancy or reducing infant mortality) but that it might do somewhat better on qualitative measures of care.  Access to health care remains a problem which ACA might be able to solve.

On the other hand, many of the reasons for, say,  the lower life expectancy figures in the US might not be easily influenced by anything that the formal health care system does.  This is because life expectancy is very much affected by deaths at younger ages (because each such death causes a lot of future years of life to be lost), and the US has high figures of early-age deaths from violence and accidents.  But it would be possible to affect infant mortality rates by providing better access to prenatal care.